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May was Better Hearing & Speech Month!



Speech-Language Pathology roots from the study of formal speaking, pronunciations, and grammar style known as elocution, or speech perfection. The foundation of this style dates back to the British 18th Century but became a field focus in the United States in 1926, with the establishment of the American Academy of Speech Correction. During the 1940's & 1950's, practitioners began to see the necessity of treatment for speech disabilities and disorders and quickly began to focus further on processing abilities in their patients. While the practice of "speech perfection" has been around for quite some time, it was only in the 21st century that speech-language pathologists began further assessing and diagnosing language delays and disorders. Treatment, though still relatively new in the grand scheme of things, has continued to evolve into something practical and effective for people of all ages. Organizations like ASHA (American Speech-Language and Hearing Association) have made it their mission to make this practical and effective treatment plan beneficial for all. According to their website, ASHA has established themselves as their members' biggest advocate. By using their platform to support and encourage those interested in becoming an integral part of the Speech Language sector of the medical industry, the opportunities for practical treatment continue to evolve. As we at Lively Therapy Services continue to expand, we are constantly looking for the next opportunity to aide in that evolution. Lively Therapy Services started out as a single-discipline operation, providing pediatric occupational therapy to Cabarrus County & surrounding areas. The dream, however, has always been to have an integrated, multi-disciplinary team that provides exceptional services to the youth of Concord, Kannapolis, Salisbury, and beyond. We experienced exponential growth in 2022 and realized the opportunity to broaden our scope was coming quicker than we had anticipated. (No complaints here!) In November of 2022, we hired Kendal Ritchie, a UNC Greensboro graduate and Concord native, as our first Speech Therapist. Kendal has been an incredible asset to the team, so this month we wanted to spotlight her & her contribution to the field as a pediatric Speech Therapist. On top of Speech Therapy Month, this month was also Kendal's birthday, AND she got engaged! What an incredible May! To pick Ms. Kendal's brain a little more, we asked her some questions that have been on our minds, and you can find her answers below! Q: Why did you decide to become an SLP? A: My grandmother suffered a brain aneurysm before I was born and was diagnosed with aphasia. She mostly communicated with single words and gestures. I learned about speech therapy when I was younger by going with her to her therapy appointments. Q: What is your favorite skill to work on? A: I love working in early intervention with children with developmental delays as well as children with apraxia. Apraxia is a neurological disorder that affects the brain, contributing to the ability to produce speech. Essentially, the child (or adult) knows what they want to say, but the brain cannot sequence the speech to make the correct sound. Abilities vary from person to person, but some of the general symptoms are difficulty pronouncing words correctly, difficulty saying the same word several times correctly, and inflection errors. Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? A: The most rewarding aspect of my job is building relationships with the families and seeing the child’s progress firsthand and how it has an impact on their day-to-day life! Q: Do you prefer sessions held in the clinic or in a community setting? A: I prefer to do sessions wherever the child is the most comfortable! When they are comfortable with me and in their environment, we are able to make great progress. Our clinic is set up for lots of fun which has a big impact on growth and progress. Q: In what ways do you think assistive devices, sign language, and other forms of communication are helpful when it comes to a child that has minimal or not ability to speak? A: For children with severe expressive communication disorders, assistive devices can improve their ability to interact with others in everyday settings. AAC promotes wider social interaction by offering different functions from supporting existing speech to providing an alternative for verbal communication. Sign language is also a very useful tool to use, especially with the late talkers. Sign language takes the pressure off of the child to vocalize or imitate while also still giving them a way to communicate. Q: Is there anything that has made your position more challenging following the past few years with the effects of the pandemic? A: If anything, the pandemic has made me into a better therapist. During the pandemic I was completely virtual and really had to implement parent coaching into my sessions to make progress with my clients. The pandemic taught me new ways to be creative and support the families that I work with.





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